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After maintaining a vigil outside the San Francisco Hall of Justice for 52 weeks demanding that the murderers of our children be arrested, charged, tried and convicted, we are marching to Sacramento and will be passing through your city. We are looking for churches where we may gather. Dear faith leaders, if this cause is on your heart and you are interested in your church being open so we may gather, inform and invite others to join in the march to stop the execution of our children, we will be grateful. – Archbishop Franzo King, 415-871-9676
Now, as the San Francisco Bay View newspaper’s 40th birthday year comes to a close, is the time to bring up to date the historical sketch of our paper that I began with Part 1 in the January paper. Piles of old papers rest on my desk, waiting to be read once again – a banquet of stories and pictures of our lives, our hopes, our goals. Let me let you taste the flavor of the freedom we continue to fight for in the age of Trump.
May 19 was less than a month since the “Frisco 5” began their hunger strike with a single demand: that Police Chief Greg Suhr resign or be fired … this chief, who for five years has been crying crocodile tears while justifying every police killing of a Black or Latino person … this chief, who for five years has been vigilantly protected by the mayor, the media and the city’s Democratic political establishment. On May 19, the mayor forced him to resign.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi issued a statement on April 1 on the news that a second group of SFPD officers exchanged racist and homophobic text messages and sent a letter to District Attorney George Gascón on the topic. Mayor Edwin M. Lee issued a statement April 4 after meeting with the San Francisco Police Department’s Police Employee Groups. At the full Board of Supervisors meeting April 5, Supervisor Malia Cohen and Board President London Breed issued a joint statement regarding the racist and homophobic text messages.
San Francisco is touted by conservative detractors and liberal boosters alike as the nation’s most progressive city. This is still true in many ways, even amidst towering symbols of gentrification. But, in particular, when it comes to holding police accountable for use of excessive force against communities of color, the City by the Bay is no different from the New Yorks, Chicagos, Baltimores or Fergusons of this country, where cops literally get away with murder. Think this is an exaggeration? Read on.
On Friday night, Jan. 15, many young people gathered outside of the Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church for the start of the “Reclaim MLK” weekend, a 96-hour action dedicated to non-violent protest against police terrorism and gentrification. During rush hour, “Reclaim MLK” protesters shut down the major intersection of Geary at Webster in the Fillmore, once San Francisco’s Black heartland.
On April 3rd of this year, the entire world was focused on the SFPD. A scandal had emerged surrounding the federal corruption case of former Sgt. Ian Furminger. A spate of violent text messages sent between SFPD officers was exposed. While people debated the meaning of this distasteful police behavior, the SFPD, in collusion with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, was cleaning up and covering up fresh blood. Another Black man had been killed while in the custody of San Francisco law enforcement. His name was Darnell Benson.
The standing-room-only town hall was yelling above the police as they spoke about the murder on March 21 of young Raza organizer, City College of San Francisco student and beloved son de la mision (of the Mission), Alejandro Nieto, 28, by police in Bernal Heights Park. Join the march on Saturday, March 29, for Alex Nieto at 2 p.m. from Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission St., to Bernal Heights Park, San Francisco.
Folks all over the Bay Area have grown weary of brutality by out of control police, from the murder of unarmed 13-year-old Andy Lopez last month in Santa Rosa to Alan Blueford in Oakland to 61-year-old disabled Andrea Naharro, shot this past weekend in San Jose. Valencia Gardens is in the historic Mission District, currently undergoing massive gentrification. As more white folks have been moving in, many Black and Brown folks are being profiled and stopped by police.
San Franciscans working from 2004 to 2013 to keep tasers out of SFPD officers’ hands as they “talk down” people in public crisis are today celebrating SFPD Chief Greg Suhr’s Wednesday, April 10, decision to drop his “less lethal” taser proposal for San Francisco cops. Idriss Stelley Foundation Program Director Jeremy Miller affirmed: “The Police Commission should be commended for engaging this issue seriously in a manner that befits their political responsibility. Tasers torture and kill. They are unaccountable weapons for unaccountable officers. But it was the people of San Francisco who forced Suhr’s hand.”
At its Wednesday, Nov. 14, meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Department of Public Health, 101 Grove St., Room 300, the San Francisco Mental Health Board will welcome public comment before voting on a resolution against putting tasers in SFPD Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officers’ hands.